Back On the Road

It feels weird, but here we are, traveling once again. I loaded up my bike, said my “see you down the road” to my Quartzsite campmates (it’s better than “goodbye”), and hit Highway 95 south toward Yuma. It was a very straight and kind of boring drive, aside from watching a pair of C-130 Hercules fly the pattern and land near the Yuma Proving Grounds. I didn’t get to watch any bombing runs as I drove, unfortunately.

My destination was the Yuma Hamfest, an amateur radio convention. I was hoping to pick up some equipment and maybe attend some seminars if any interested me.

It was a bit disappointing, to be honest. I’ve been spoiled by the absolutely enormous conventions that used to take place in Boxboro, Massachusetts — conveniently, one town over from where I grew up. This was pretty small, without many vendors in the building or individuals selling equipment out of their RVs. The guy at Ham Radio Outlet literally laughed at me when I told him what kind of mobile antenna mount I wanted, then told me it doesn’t exist. So I ordered the one I wanted, which very much exists, that I’d bookmarked on Amazon instead, along with a few other things I couldn’t find at the hamfest. I’d wanted to support the local businesses, but if they don’t have what I need (or laugh at me for asking), I can’t do that.

Over the two days of the convention, I did manage to pick up a wattmeter to test my HF radio and see if it’s actually putting out any power at all. When I set everything up I can hear pretty well, but no one ever answers my calls, so I want to make sure it’s actually working. And I did attend a seminar by Gordo, WB6NOA, all about the upcoming changes to the Technician license question pool. I’m already a volunteer examiner who can help give the tests, and I’ve thought about going even farther with it and teaching online classes about how to get your license. Gordo has some great resources available to instructors for free, which I’ll look into.

The trip was certainly not a waste, though. One great thing about Yuma is it’s actual civilization, with amenities that Quartzsite doesn’t have. During my two days in town, I took advantage of that. I was due for an oil change, so I took care of that. I did grocery shopping at a real grocery store that actually had food on all of the shelves, including foods I can’t get in Quartzsite. I couldn’t find a tire pump anywhere in Quartzsite to air up before I left, not even at the truck stops, so I bought one of my own that can handle pumping my back tires up to Ford’s recommendation of 80 psi. Finding a powerful enough gas station pump for this has been an ongoing struggle, but not anymore. I’ll do it myself.

And I took myself out to Burgers and Beer for… well, burgers and beer. This was an appropriate choice that my server recommended, without even knowing I live in a van.

Between my two days in Yuma, I spent the night at a Boondockers Welcome location in nearby Fortuna Foothills. The front yard is entirely gravel, and I got to park anywhere I wanted. I made sure to give Lister some room to roam since he’d been in the van most of the day. The neighbors across the street, Q and Victor, noticed my bike when I pulled in, and later came over to talk motorcycles. Q was disappointed that I wasn’t sticking around to ride the local trails. Maybe I’ll go back, especially if they’re as good as he says they are.

Meanwhile, Lister claimed the brick wall and everything else he could see as “mine.”

Overall, I like Yuma. After months in Quartzsite, I had to get used to seeing actual green plants again, since there’s loads of irrigation from the Colorado River. Unlike Lake Havasu, Yuma has a fair bit of personality, as well as history. I explored a little bit of that history while I was there, but that’s a story for its own post.

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